Another Swing and a Miss for Arizona Marijuana Opponents, Another Victory for MMJ Industry

arizona medical cannabis

Arizona medical cannabis businesses can exhale: Yet another attempt to sink the state’s MMJ program has failed – utterly and completely.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, a Republican representing Fountain Hills, has abandoned an effort to repeal Arizona’s medical marijuana laws via a ballot measure.

The reason? He couldn’t get enough support from fellow lawmakers to get such a measure in front of voters.

Kavanagh’s failure to repeal the law removes one of the last major threats to the state’s medical marijuana law and should help bring a bit more stability to Arizona’s medical cannabis industry, which has faced scores of challenges in its short history. Owners of dispensaries, grow sites and ancillary medical marijuana companies, as well as those planning to launch such businesses, no longer have to worry that the whole program could be shut down. At least for now.

That should help the industry reach its full potential as dozens of additional dispensaries open in the coming months.

Kavanagh blamed the lack of support for a repeal on politics. He told Capitol Media Services that the “majority” of Republican lawmakers in the state are against medical marijuana but worry that putting a cannabis measure on the ballot would lead to a larger-that-expected turnout of Democrats in the next election, which could hurt GOP candidates and issues in general.

In the end, it doesn’t even matter what the majority of lawmakers think: It’s the voters who would have had the final say anyway, and by most indications there are many more locals who support MMJ than oppose it. A poll conducted earlier this year by a political consulting firm chosen by Kavanagh himself even found that 55% of likely voters back the state’s current medical marijuana law vs. 39% who oppose it. In the political world, that’s a knock-out margin. A separate poll conducted several weeks earlier found support at nearly 60%.

Yet Kavanagh, like other lawmakers and officials in the state before him, seemed dead-set on scuttling Arizona’s MMJ law – displaying a fair amount of hubris along the way. The state’s governor implemented a similar strategy, putting the MMJ program on hold for a year and taking the issue to the courts in a bid to sink the industry completely. After each of her efforts failed, the governor finally relented and grudgingly agreed to move forward with the dispensary program. Other officials, including Maricopa County Attorney General Bill Montgomery, have failed to stop dispensaries from opening as well.

The repeated attempts by Arizona lawmakers and elected officials to challenge a law enacted by voters underscores the deep resistance to MMJ that remains in some circles. It also shows just how out-of-touch these officials are with the people they represent.

Meanwhile, the industry continues to grow. Nearly two dozen dispensaries have opened in Arizona over the past six months, and dozens more are hoping to launch before a state-imposed deadline kicks in later this summer. Dispensaries that received permission from the state to move forward must get up and running by August 2013 or they’ll lose the right to open at all.

That deadline is creating some major headaches. Many entrepreneurs delayed their plans to start a dispensary because of the various challenges to the state law, fearful of devoting too much time and money to the endeavor if the whole thing could implode anyway. They are no way behind in the startup process and could miss the deadline.

With most major challenges to the state’s MMJ law now removed, eleven dispensary groups have sued Arizona in an effort to get more time to launch.

6 comments on “Another Swing and a Miss for Arizona Marijuana Opponents, Another Victory for MMJ Industry
  1. Smokey on

    The fact that Rep. Kavanagh blamed a lack of support on politics for his failed measure to completely eliminate the medical cannabis program in AZ is evidence of his narrow-sighted mindset. Based on this statement, he clearly doesn’t have the best interest of his constituents in mind, but rather his re-election.
    Personally, I don’t vote for candidates that have failed to honestly, openly and aggressively support the overwhelming interests of their constituents. These people have one thing in mind when running for office and re-election…themselves.
    I doubt he has read much, if any, positive research data on the clearly positive results gained by patients using medical cannabis. These folks aren’t a threat to anyone, they merely want to effectively control the typically painful/uncomfortable symptoms of a disease in order to regain a tolerably comfortable quality of life. If Mr. Kavanagh has a problem with this primary objective, then he is living in denial.
    I would also presume that he believes pain control is simply a matter of filling a prescription, taking the medication, and then functioning comfortably. Apparently, he does not pay any attention to the myriad of potential horrible, often deadly, side effects that accompany every one of these medications.
    Surely there is a more astute, compassionate, non-self centered political wannabe willing to step up during the next election. Mr. Kavanagh needs to return to the real world because it seems he has lost contact with it…

  2. Lyle Courtsal on

    All it took was one dumb bought off democrat in nevada to ruin the legalization initiative there just like in washington state; actually it was two here, not one. And get my book before I get blocked again on the internet. I guess the site wasn’t working when this guy did a test purchase for me the other day. I guess the great people at homeland security who blocked all my e-mails with the word “nazi” on them are now working through, you guessed it, paypal to block sales now in arizona, tempe to be exact. Stupid and bizarre; 100% amerikkkan. Lyle Courtsal

  3. Lyle Courtsal on

    So what am I pushing for?
    1) make I-75 nationwide state by state, makes cannabis enforcement the lowest law enforcement priority.
    2) protect patient-grower co-ops
    3) tax state level at 10%, not 75% considering all the other taxes business owners have to pay.
    4) driving BAC limits should be .4% BAC, not .05% like the dumb democrats did.

  4. David on

    When is someone going to talk about the affect that dispensaries opening in arizona would take away all card holders right to grow their own medicine? People can not afford these dispensaries prices! Aleast people on unemployment or disabled people should be able to grow their own because they can afford that but not afford to buy it.

  5. Reid Phifer on

    If you let people grow their own then you loose the ability to control and regulate the medicine and potentially open a gateway to more black market activity and risk more criminal activity. You wouldn’t allow someone to grow opiates, instead they get a prescription for pain like vicoden or morphine and you go to a pharmacy to get it. Essentially, for all intensive purposes, that is how a dispensary operates, much like a pharmacy. Once this takes off I suspect there will be plenty to go around and programs will be implemented for people who need the medicine but can’t afford it.

  6. Dave K, Phoenix, AZ on

    Both Colorado and Washington are demonstrating that the sky does not fall when a state decides to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol. A poll that was done after the first of the year shows support for this in Arizona. Perhaps Mr. Kavanaugh will get the message when voters decide to do so. It may be the only way to assure that the proper strains of the plant are available to those who need them. Patients who are seriously ill may have to travel long distances to obtain them under the current system. That initiative if it receives the signatures to go to the ballot would allow people to grow the most effective strains for their medical problems.

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